On this past Monday's episode of Black Ink Crew - a show about a group of individuals who own and (many times horribly) operate a tattoo shop in Harlem - cast member O'Sh*t (this is literally his nickname), decides to get a vasectomy after thinking that he'd gotten a fourth woman pregnant after she showed up at his job and pulled a pregnancy test out of her purse. Sh*t, as he is affectionately referred to as, already has three children with three different women.
Sh*t having another kid? This is pretty much expected. Even though he knows in his heart of hearts that he can't have another kid for many reasons, I'd bet all of the money in your wallet that not a single soul who watches this show was even remotely surprised that a woman he was fucking would show up with a positive pregnancy test.
It turns out that she was trying to be funny, and by default being a complete asshole, and the test was negative. But it kicked Sh*t's ass into gear on getting a vasectomy, something he'd thought about doing for a while. I guess word of his upcoming vasectomy "hit the streets" - I suppose no more babies by O'Sh*t is cause for alarm across 110th Street and into the Bronx…whatever have you, I'm from Soundview (I'm not from Soundview) - and his ex, and baby mama number two (I think), Kathy, shows up to talk him out of it under the guise of him going out and being reckless and doing his dick dance freely around NYC.
Or something. It's not entirely clear why she's so concerned (though the obvious answer is she wants to get back together and go half on another kid, as Sh*t posits); even Sh*t is like, "why do you care?" See, Kathy and Sh*t aren't married nor dating and haven't been together in quite some time, but she is adamantly opposed to him getting a vasectomy. To the point where she seems (and future shows) to indicate that she'd be angry with him for getting one. A woman he isn't dating and has no interest in dating who you'd think would be happy that he was attempting to reduce the number of future liabilities that would eat into her child support checks was visibly upset about his decision, one that has absolutely nothing to do with her.
I thought the exchange was insane until I asked some women friends I have how they felt about vasectomies. What I learned was that (many) women feel some type of way about (certain) men getting vasectomies.
Let's talk about this.
One of my friends went clean in. She felt that it was selfish for a man to get a vasectomy because it would rob a woman of a chance to have a child with a man she was in love with. The decision would be selfish for limiting the potential woman of his dream's child rearing options, lest she have to go elsewhere. This was a sticking point for her. This confuddled me. How could a single man making his OWN reproductive decisions be selfish? Women have been wishing that men could take birth control for eons. But the permanence of it is the problem. Permanently removing oneself from the procreative masses makes men selfish because of the women they might romantically encounter who could potentially want kids.
Never mind if he already has a kid (or kids) and doesn't want any more.
Never mind that if we get a woman pregnant we have zero say-so into whether or not we have a child or not.
We're selfish for taking things into our own hands.
That's an unintentional pun.
Amazingly, that same conversation played out amongst several other women that I asked in reference to that initial convo. A majority (we're talking 60/40 here) did feel like it would be at the very least a bit unfair if a man met some woman who wanted a kid, or if perhaps a woman wanted another one and he couldn't give her one, thereby making him selfish. At least a smidge.
To some degree I get it. Not wanting a kid and not being able to have one are two different things. People change their minds. Maybe you don't want a kid today but next year you see somebody's cute kid on Facebook and its off with the latex and hoping for that late text. Heheheh. So condoms and birth control are okay because nobody is closing down the club; it's more like the liquor board just shut down the venue for the weekend while everybody gets their licenses and paperwork together to open up and get the party going. And considering how many women are out here looking for love and coming up empty, the idea of a man who seems good on paper taking his genes out of the pool can seem selfish even if he isn't an option for that woman. Women can't have kids by themselves, the eligible man pool is small, and here this man goes reducing the number of men women might want to procreate with by one.
But on the other end, how fucked up is it that a man taking his sperm off the market to keep in line with HIS wants and desires is selfish? I do know that mentioning it to friends drew a visceral reaction; I guess telling a woman you're dealing with that the Baby Factory is shut down might be irreconcilable differences. Which gets back to the unwanted pregnancy. If a man gets somebody pregnant, we have no definitive say so on if she keeps the child and asking her not to makes us selfish.
As a man, making sure that I don't accidentally get somebody pregnant by ensuring that I can't…also makes me selfish. Not because I'd be out rawdoggin' randoms, but because I couldn't impregnate one of those randoms I was rawdoggin'.
And that's the issue and what O'Sh*t was getting at. Babies happen. When babies happen and it's not what you wanted to happen - as a man - you step up to the plate. Well, you might be inclined to make sure you don't repeat yourself, permanently, while taking care of your responsibilities.
I hear you looking at me like, why not just wear a condom or use birth control?
Or oops, there go my kids all over your face, oh my.
Babies happen, yo. The first thing you find out when you either are pregnant or get somebody pregnant is how many women get pregnant on birth control of any sort. Human error is real.
So, to vasectomy or not to vasectomy, that is the question.
And is it really selfish? That is another question.
Let's talk about it.